Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/116

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and he was obliged to get up and walk about. Hours passed and his friends did not return. O'Reilly's sufferings at this time were the worst he ever experienced. In his desperate straits his knowledge and judgment of woodcraft served him in good stead. Recollecting that the natives lived on freshly killed meat when they could get no water, he sought for a tree with possum marks. This he soon found and on climbing it secured a large possum by pulling it out of its hole by the tail and striking its head against the tree. He then learned what his subsequent experience confirmed, that this meat was the very best substitute for water. Maguire returned at nightfall, bringing food and a bottle of water. He remained but a short time, thinking it best to go back to the Englishman's house to avoid exciting suspicion. Soon after his departure, O'Reilly made a bed with boughs and leaves on the sand, using the young branches of the peppermint tree in order to keep away ants, snakes, and centipedes. He soon fell into a sound sleep and did not awake till his friends called him the next morning. Yet all this time he was in danger of being tracked by the police.

The party soon started for the beach, which was reached at about nine o'clock. One of the men was sent with a strong glass, which Maguire had brought, to the top of a high hill to keep a lookout for the Vigilant. At about one o'clock he came running down with the welcome news that the vessel was steering north, with all sails spread. As no time was to be lost the boat was quickly run out through the surf. The men pulled cheerily toward the headland, for they were confident of reaching it before the bark passed. They had rowed about a couple of hours when she was seen steering straight toward the boat. The men therefore stopped pulling and waited for her to come up. To their intense disappointment she changed her course slightly when within two miles of the boat, as if to avoid them. The men looked on amazed. Maguire repeatedly said that Captain Baker had pledged his word to take them on board, and he could not believe him mean enough to break it. To settle the question one of the men stood up in the boat and hailed the vessel loudly enough to be heard on board. There was no answer. Again the man hailed her, his companions joining in the shout. No sound came back, and the Vigilant seemed to be moving a little further off. At last she brought up abreast of the boat, at about three miles distant. As a last resort, Maguire fixed a white shirt on the top of an oar and the men all shouted again. But the Vigilant passed on, leaving the boat to its fate.

As the bark gradually receded in the distance, the bitterness of O'Reilly's disappointment was increased by the sense of danger. What could now be done to save him was the thought of every one in the boat, as she was put about and pulled slowly for the shore. Maguire proposed that the boat should be hauled on to the beach and then